(The Roys Report) Recent allegations concerning Ravi Zacharias have shocked the evangelical world and prompted two investigations—one by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) and one by the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA), the denomination that ordained Zacharias.
Yet some are arguing that such investigations and reporting are pointless and even cruel, given that the famous apologist has passed away.
“While this may be true, I think it’s irresponsible to accuse one who cannot defend against the allegations,” said someone on Facebook.
“Since it’s not an ongoing problem, and he surely won’t do it again, I’m not sure I see the relevance,” said another.
Yet, many credible allegations were raised about Zacharias when he was alive. But rather than rigorously investigate them, his namesake organization spun cleverly worded statements, which exploited evangelicals’ desire to lionize their champion apologist.
(M)any credible allegations were raised about Zacharias when he was alive. But rather than rigorously investigate them, his namesake organization spun cleverly worded statements . . .”
RZIM also engaged in questionable governance and financial practices for years, enriching Zacharias and his family, and giving them undue control over the ministry. But while Zacharias was being upheld as the gold standard, no one was willing to look at these practices or hold the board accountable.
Hopefully, now this has changed.
Board Ignored Allegations for Years
Certainly, anyone who’s read Steve Baughman’s 2018 book, Cover-Up in the Kingdom, can see that Zacharias exaggerated his credentials and outright lied about being an Oxford professor.
Any board worth its salt would have read Baughman’s book. It also would have demanded all emails and phone records during the time in which the sexting between Zacharias and Lori Anne Thompson occurred.
The board also should have interviewed Thompson and asked her for documentation. Yet, Thompson told me RZIM never contacted her or asked for any documentation.
Even now, after revelation of shocking sexual abuse and harassment allegations by massage therapists at spas Zacharias co-owned, RZIM seems bent on denial. Though RZIM has hired a firm to investigate the spa allegations, what’s telling is RZIM’s recent statement, labeling the accusations “false.”
So, before the results of any independent investigation, RZIM apparently has made up its mind. It’s likely, then, that RZIM’s “investigation” will not be an attempt to discover the truth, but rather a ruse to justify a foregone conclusion.
It’s likely, then, that RZIM’s “investigation” will not be an attempt to discover the truth, but rather a ruse to justify a foregone conclusion.
But what’s most concerning is that Miller & Martin promotes itself as an expert in “crisis management.” On its website, the firm states that its crisis management team “aggressively pursues avoidance” and helps “limit” the amount that a crisis “damage(s) a client’s brand.”
This is not a firm that an organization committed to truth and transparency would hire for its “independent” investigation. But RZIM hasn’t shown a commitment to truth and transparency for years. And this is frightening, considering that the ministry manages $30 million to $40 million in donations each year.
Secrecy, Wealth, & Nepotism
In 2015—the same year that Steve Baughman began investigating Ravi Zacharias—RZIM was granted its request to be classified as an “association of churches” by the IRS.
This enabled RZIM to stop filing IRS form 990s, which reveal the salaries of an organization’s top executives, as well the identities of its board members.
I have been asking RZIM for the names of its board members and executive salaries since November 2019, but RZIM refuses to produce them. A look at RZIM’s last 990, filed in 2015, indicates possible reasons why.
In 2015, three Zacharias family members
sat on RZIM’s board. Ravi served as chairman. His wife, Margie, served as vice-chairman. And his daughter, Sarah Davis (now CEO of RZIM) served as a director.
It’s no wonder Lori Anne Thompson, and her husband, Brad, felt they couldn’t approach RZIM’s board in 2017 about Ravi’s alleged sexual predation.
In 2015, RZIM also paid Zacharias family members more than a million dollars.
Ravi and his wife received more than a half-million dollars. Their daughter, Sarah, received more than $216,000. Another daughter, Naomi Zacharias—director of Wellspring International, the stated beneficiary of one of Zacharias’ spas where abuse allegedly occurred—was paid nearly $150,000.
Two other Zacharias family members—Naomi’s husband at the time, Robert “Drew” McNeil, and Ravi’s son, Nathan Zacharias—were paid another $155,000.
The 2015 form 990 also states that RZIM provided…
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Editor’s note. This article is an opinion piece written by Julie Roys and originally published at the Roys Report. Title changed by Protestia..